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Session and Workshop Abstracts

Workshop 3C (W3C) - Abstracts

Mental Capacity and Consent – ethical considerations when a person lacks capacity to consent.

Hosted by: Paul Kenny

Abstract: A Workshop hosted by Paul Kenny who originally qualified as a barrister, worked in Private International Law for many years and has in recent years practised as an adult social worker dealing with matters relating to mental capacity on a daily basis.


  • It is proposed that there will be an open discussion around the legal and ethical issues involved with research into people who may lack the capacity to give consent or informed consent.

  • Explore why we have laws in relation to Mental Capacity. How we have the right to self-determination and from an ethical perspective - autonomy, and the choice of being able to be able to consent or not.


The initial exploration will be of the requirements of the Human Rights Act 1998 and how it may apply to consent. Also, we will look at the Equality Act 2010, and the requirement not to discriminate against a person due to a protected characteristic. There will be a brief discussion of children and consent, parental responsibility, case law and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Then there will be an outline of the background to, and requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which is the governing legislation in this area. We will explore how the MCA has its own ‘ethical’ features running throughout and some ethical issues which arise in its implementation.

It is anticipated that the ethical considerations in relation to consent will have emerged during the discussions.  However, the session will end with a discussion of the usual ethics relevant to consent and how they may apply in the situation of person lacking capacity.


  • Hopefully, participants will be able to confidently apply the MCA in research situations if they take this learning further.

  • Participants will determine and share a greater awareness of the application of research ethics where participants may lack the capacity to consent.

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